Swimming Week: 5 minutes with US swimmer Amanda Beard
Amanda Beard first swam into the spotlight in 1996, securing three medals (one gold and two silver) at the Atlanta Olympic Games aged just 14.
Since then the US swimmer has enjoyed huge success within the sport, with seven Olympic medals and numerous world records to her name, but along her journey, she has also had to battle personal struggles with drugs, bulimia and depression.
Dipping in and out of retirement, the mother of two is now back to her best and focusing her efforts on competing at Rio 2016.
We teamed up with Aqua Sphere, her official swim kit partner, to ask Amanda a few questions about her personal difficulties, the pressures on professional swimmers today and juggling motherhood with her passion for swimming.
You missed out on London 2012, did you still enjoy it as a spectator and fan?
I loved watching the Olympics on TV. Of course I enjoy being there too, but I have so many close friends that I get to watch and cheer for. I think of some of my teammates as family.
What sport did you enjoy watching the most?
I enjoy watching swimming the most because I know everyone, but I get pretty into all the sports. Whatever was on the television I was watching!
There were young girls that excelled in the pool last year including Missy Franklin, Katie Ledecky and Ye Shiwen. Do you think young swimmers face too much pressure?
I don’t think it’s too much pressure, but they need to have the right support group around them. They also have to remember that it’s just a sport and it really doesn’t define who they are.
Can you relate to their experiences having competed at the Olympics at such a young age?
When I was 14 swimming at the Olympics I was very oblivious to all the pressures around me. I didn’t become aware of the stress and pressure of the Games until I came home and tried to live up to that.
You have suffered a lot of personal problems, do you think your swimming career heightened or helped them?
Swimming was always my way to work out a lot of the stress I was dealing with, but it also put a lot of stress on me. It was a love hate relationship. I had to learn how to relax and take it easy on myself.
Do you think people struggle to understand that a person can be successful and depressed at the same time?
I think it’s refreshing for people to hear that even though things might be going right in their professional life it doesn’t mean that everything is fine in their personal life. We are very complex, and experience situations differently.
Congratulations on the birth of your second child this year! How did you combine pregnancy with your swimming regime?
As a second-time mum, I know it can be difficult to find the right workouts in order to feel good and remain physically active. Mixing a variety of simple, low-impact workout solutions, such as swimming, walking and yoga throughout the week, will allow you to feel great and strong throughout your pregnancy and beyond.
At the end of the day, I just love the water and stretching or floating in the water can calm and soothe muscles.
How do you find swimming and competing since you’ve become a mother?
The only difference I feel about my swimming after having my children is I put less pressure on myself. To me my number one priority is my family then it’s swimming. It allows me to relax it and just enjoy it more.
How would you feel if your kids decided to take up the sport?
I want to expose my kids to all sports and see if they truly enjoy something. It’s important to me that they are both water safe and know how to swim, but to be competitive is not important to me.
The Women’s Sports Magazine